The Six Places Where Breast Cancer Often Spreads
Jeffrey H. Dover
All cancers pose much greater threats if they spread throughout the body. Cancers generally spread to local tissues first, regional tissues, then organs, and ultimately to distant areas of the body. The bloodstream and lymphatic system are two ways that cancers can spread quicker than they would otherwise. Each individual cancer has a tendency to spread to certain tissues and organs more frequently than others. For those diagnosed with breast cancer, knowing where it often spreads may make detecting symptoms due to metastasis a little easier.
Once breast cancer has reached an advanced stage, it most frequently spreads to the:
• Lymph nodes
• Skin of the breast
Breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes as early as stage II. If a secondary cancer develops in any of the other areas, the breast cancer has reached stage IV. There actually are several different types of lymph nodes which can be affected by the spread of breast cancer. Axillary lymph nodes, those located under the arm, are some of the most commonly affected by breast cancer metastasis. The lymph nodes below the collarbone, called subclavian nodes, and those nearest the breast bone, known as sterna nodes and mediastinal nodes, are also common locations for initial metastasis.
Once metastasis has occurred, treatment options generally become fairly aggressive. Inaccurate staging or a misdiagnosis by a doctor can be highly detrimental to the patient. If a doctor suspects metastasis has occurred when it actually has not, drastic, unnecessary treatments might be recommended. This type of doctor’s error can also bring about unnecessary fear and emotional stress in the patient. On the other hand, if a doctor understages breast cancer and does not detect any spreading when metastasis has in fact begun, secondary cancers may begin to develop.